Character Art Exchange

The chants

Long before Colin Kaepernick’s protest during the national anthem became one of the biggest issues in the NFL [url=http://www.lionscheapstore.com/kerryon-johnson-jersey-cheap]Kerryon Johnson Youth Jersey[/url] , Oakland Raiders tight end Jared Cook was one of a handful of St. Louis players who took part in their own on-field display against police brutality and racial injustice.

Cook was one of five players on the Rams in 2014 who mimicked the ”Hands up, don’t shoot” symbol during pregame introductions in support of protesters in Ferguson, Missouri, after a grand jury declined to indict a police officer in the fatal shooting of an unarmed black man, Michael Brown.

While Cook has not been a regular part of protests during the national anthem since Kaepernick first started it in 2016, he supports the cause and disagrees with the NFL’s announcement last week that players would be required to stand during the national anthem.

”We’re here for a bigger platform,” he said Tuesday. ”We’re not just athletes. We’re people that live this. It’s people in our neighborhood, it’s people that we grew up with, it’s people that we know who are actually living through these circumstances. So when we speak on it, it’s not like we’re just speaking out of the side of our neck. It’s things that actually touch home and things that we can actually relate to. All I have to say is [url=http://www.buccaneerscheapstore.com/vita-vea-jersey-cheap]Vita Vea Buccaneers Jersey[/url] , I just think it’s sad that it’s veered from something that stood for good and the whole narrative has changed into something that’s negative when that was not what it was initially about in the first place.”

Kaepernick stoked the debate over the anthem when he began protesting police brutality and racial injustice in 2016 by refusing to stand during the playing of ”The Star-Spangled Banner” before games.

Several players followed suit that year but the issue really moved to the forefront in 2017 when President Donald Trump brought it up at a campaign rally, saying NFL owners should fire any player who refused to stand during the anthem.

More than 200 players protested during the anthem that weekend before the number of protesters dwindled as the season progressed. But the league tried to settle the issue last week by mandating that players must either stand respectfully for the anthem or remain in the locker room. Teams will be subject to fines if players don’t comply and will have the option of punishing players.

While other leagues like the NBA already mandate that players stand for the anthem, Cook said there could have been better consultation with the union on this issue and a way to give players an avenue to express their views on these issues.

”You look at a league like the NBA,” he said. ”I think the NBA always handles its social issues pretty well. It always handles its players really well and with utmost respect for the players. I think there could have been a bigger and a better way to fix the situation.”



Derrick Johnson has been the enemy in Oakland for 13 years, tormenting the Raiders while wearing red for the Kansas City Chiefs.

Johnson has traded sides in the fierce AFC West rivalry, joining the Raiders as the veteran anchor at middle linebacker in a defense that is being rebuilt this offseason.

”It was different, I don’t want to say weird, but it’s different to put on the silver and black – even shirt – because we haven’t put on jerseys and helmets and all of that stuff yet,” Johnson said Wednesday. ”Even to put on the shirt, it was different for me. But you know what [url=http://www.cardinalscheapstore.com/josh-rosen-jersey-cheap]Josh Rosen Youth Jersey[/url] , when we got in the middle of the field, when you talk ball and you start running around, tossing the football around and calling plays and going over backs, I’m very familiar to that. So, that went out of my mind really fast.”

Johnson has been one of the better linebackers in the league during his career but was allowed to leave Kansas City earlier this offseason as the team tried to get younger. The 35-year-old Johnson is a four-time Pro Bowler and the career tackles leader for the Chiefs.

He had options about where to play this year but ultimately opted to join the Raiders, where he will take over the spot at middle linebacker that NaVorro Bowman held after joining Oakland midway through last season.

Johnson said the enthusiasm of coach Jon Gruden and the linebacker-friendly scheme of coordinator Paul Guenther were what made his decision to sign with the Raiders.

”The main reason I’m still playing ball and chasing a championship ring just because I believe I have a lot left in the tank,” he said. ”That’s the only reason I’m back. When I get to a point where I’m like, man, I’m hanging on, I’ll get out [url=http://www.brownscheapshop.com/cheap-authentic-denzel-ward-jersey]Denzel Ward Browns Jersey[/url] , I’ll get out of the NFL. But right now, and I expressed this to Coach Gruden, I wasn’t interested in some type of rebuilding atmosphere. As soon as I said that, he had that look in his eye like, you’re talking about the sense of urgency to win. That’s exactly right.”

Johnson has appeared in 182 games with 169 starts since being drafted in the first round in 2005. He piled up 1,262 tackles to easily shatter the Chiefs franchise record, had 27 sacks and picked off 14 passes, returning four of them for touchdowns.

He had a career-best 179 tackles in 2011, when he was voted the Chiefs’ team MVP.

Johnson accumulated his impressive stats despite missing part of two seasons with ruptured Achilles tendons. He returned from the first one as good as ever, earning his most recent Pro Bowl trip in 2015 [url=http://www.buffalobillsteamonline.com/tre_davious-white-jersey]Tre'Davious White Jersey Youth[/url] , but the second seemed to finally take a step out of his legs last season.

Johnson said he feels much healthier now than he did at this time a year ago.

”This offseason I was working out and I was like, man, it’s a lot different from last year coming off an injury,” he said. ”My burst is back, it’s better than ever and it’s a good feeling because it’s going to help me make plays, it’s going to help me be explosive, and the longer you’re out from your season-ending injury, it usually gets better and it helps you out mentally. This will be my second season out from my last Achilles injury. I was healthy last year. I’m even better this year because I got a really good offseason training that I really didn’t get to do last year because I was coming off of the injury.”

The Raiders need an anchor in the middle of their defense. Bowman fared well in that role after being signed last October following his release by San Francisco. There was interest in bringing him back for a second season but the two sides couldn’t agree on a price.

Oakland didn’t address that need at linebacker in this year’s draft until the sixth round with the pick of Washington linebacker Azeem Victor.



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